Grant Bradley got entirely too used to seeing others cross the finish line ahead of him in his prep career.
The Overland senior has flipped the script in the 2019 cross country season, however, as he’s put the entire field behind him twice in three races.
With health on his side and years of pent up motivation behind him, Bradley — also a star wrestler — is approaching this cross country season differently than any other before.
“I just want to be a frontrunner this year,” Bradley said. “I want to be up with those guys up front every race. The race is at the front, so if you can be there, you can get a satisfying outcome. That’s definitely my goal.”
So far, so good.
Bradley opened the season by winning the Aurora City Championship title, running a minute faster on the same Aurora Sports Park course in which he finished eighth in 2018 to win by almost 25 seconds.
That made him the Trailblazers’ first city champion since Roblet Muhudin in 2006 and only the program’s fourth winner since the meet began in 1981. Just two days later, Bradley ran six seconds faster and won the Windjammer Invitational at Englewood High School with a time of 16 minutes, 15 seconds, that currently ranks sixth-fastest in 5A.
Admittedly dehydrated and struggling in the final mile of a hot race at the Arapahoe Warrior Invite Aug. 30, Bradley placed fourth behind Cherry Creek’s Parker Wolfe, Chatfield’s Cole Nash and Denver East’s Will Daley.
Many things have contributed to Bradley’s fast start, most significantly health.
As a multi-sport athlete, it’s harder for Bradley to keep his body in top shape and he’s fortunate that cross country comes in the fall, before wrestling.
“I haven’t had any patellar tendinitis problems or shin splits, so that’s really motivated me,” Bradley said. “Wrestling can put a lot of damage on my body and its harder to run when I have those injuries. But I’m healthy now and I hope to keep it that way.”
With continued health, Bradley can take aim at two of his remaining goals: running under 15:30 at the notoriously fast Liberty Bell Invitational Sept. 7 and then finishing in the top 15 at the Oct. 26 meet.
For a state finish, that would be a huge jump from the previous two seasons, when he finished 124th as a sophomore and 84th as a junior. Looking back, he moved on a little too easily from those results.
“I was just satisfied with how sophomore and junior year were at state, but I don’t think I should have been,” he said. “It should have motivated me more. But this year is different. All these things motivate me a lot.”
If Bradley and senior Abdi Abade are at their best, Overland coach Matt Caldwell thinks his team could contend for league and regional titles.
When cross country is over, Bradley turns his attention back to the mat, where he is already a three-time 5A state qualifier and placed fourth at 113 pounds as a sophomore. He has a career record of 87-20 and has a great chance to join his brother Isaiah, a 2018 graduate, in Overland’s 100 career win club.
Last spring on the track, Bradley teamed with Abdi Abade, Jonael Cid Gonzalez and graduated Kobe Jara to finish fifth in the 5A boys 4×800 meter relay, the best result in school history.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports